Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)
ERP is a cognitive behavioral therapy technique that is highly effective for the treatment of OCD and related disorders. ERP involves a gradual exposure to anxiety-provoking thoughts, feelings and situations while choosing not to do an automatic response or compulsion. The goal of ERP is to gradually practice a new, effective way of responding to the disorder while refraining from doing compulsions. Through this process clients learn to tolerate anxiety and discomfort while their mind gradually learns these fears are not so important and dangerous. Over time and with repeated exposures the anxiety lessens on its own.
ERP is a collaborative and compassionate process. The first step of ERP is identifying the mental and physical compulsions clients are currently doing to reduce anxiety from OCD and related disorders triggers. Together, the therapist and client create a hierarchy of the compulsions to eliminate, from easiest to hardest. In treatment clients learn tools to help them with this process. They continue to work on gradually facing the fears and responding to the disorder’s thoughts, feelings and sensations in a new way that does not feed the disorder. Clients are in charge of the exposures that they choose to do, and the pace they do them.